It is interesting to know that both Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio are presently focusing only on 4G trials and not actual launch of 4G services in the country.
Recently, Bharti Airtel launched 4G trials exclusively for its existing customers in Chennai whereas 4G trials have begun in Reliance Jio for the
last three months in different telecom circles. So, the question is why are operators taking lot of time for 4G trials rather than on launching 4G services?
First, operators have learnt from the mistakes committed by different operators during 3G launch and so they want to be doubly sure about quality of service (QoS) before they launch 4G services in a competitive environment. Bharti was the first to launch 4G services in the country with their Kolkata launch in 2012 but they are also very careful when they are planning to launch 4G services in new circles.
Recently, Airtel has launched 4G trials in Chennai where Airtel customers across the city can avail complimentary upgrade to Airtel 4G at 3G prices. The company will use this trial phase as an opportunity to gather valuable customer feedback about 4G services and assimilate these market insights into building a world-class 4G network infrastructure in Chennai. Bharti has launched trial 4G network in Chennai as they are giving customers the option to stick to their network and not shift to the competitors network.
Second, in order to provide good quality 4G services, both Airtel and Reliance Jio needs to fine tune their network for 3-6 months through trial launches to see their network can cope up with the increasing bandwidth requirement for different applications as well as increasing customer base so that the network does not crash when it becomes commercial or when it is loaded with consumers accessing different services.
Third, the network planners want to be convinced about the quality of network of all 4G modules say network, IT, billing, handset and content in a standalone or a combined manner so that they are in better position to launch commercial 4G network in respective circles. All this will help in giving good customer experience to end consumers as no operator wants to take any chances but are banking on quality of service which will be the differentiating factor in data services.
All this is a win-win for both consumers as well as operators. Consumers benefit in terms of good quality service whereas operators benefit in terms of large 4G subscriber numbers.